Fall makes me greedy. I want to capture the light and the colors and the smells for safekeeping, so I can enjoy them in the dead of winter, when the light is too low, the days are too short and the colors are not so vivid.
The sun streams into my studio this fall morning, at that rare angle perfectly designed to show off the yellows and reds of the leaves still clinging to the trees. My yard is especially good at this, with native roses and big, old aspen trees that just blaze.
The natural world is a little too showy in the fall, don’t you think? Kind of like a home decorating show that makes your house look frumpy and drab, and at the same time, leaves you feeling rather hopeful that you, too, could achieve that freakish, yet compelling level of clean, perfectly arranged space.
Looking for ways to postpone work, I find that a sink full of hot, soapy water actually looks inviting. Besides, getting rid of that pile of dirty dishes goes a long way toward making the house look clean, even if I haven’t mopped for a while.
A few years ago, I decided to only buy Ultra Concentrated Joy to use for dishwashing. What could be better?
Still in procrastination mode, I daydream about home remodeling projects, and indulge in the secret, guilty distraction of HGTV. (I guess it’s no longer a secret.) For the uninitiated, HGTV stands for Home and Garden Television, sort of like ESPN for remodeling junkies.
Since rarely do things go wrong on these shows, HGTV doesn’t quite fall into the category of reality TV. If you’ve ever done any remodeling, you know that things going wrong are the norm, not the exception.
By world standards, I live in a warm, dry palace that, while far from pristine, is relatively clean and ultimately, more than adequate shelter. So I’m somewhat horrified at how much I enjoy shows like Divine Design, and dream of having rooms with lighting plans and well-considered color schemes.
We’re contemplating replacing our kitchen cabinets that, having served since 1967 and survived at least one attempt at remodeling, are now falling apart. The grout between the countertop tiles is probably harboring a multitude of bacterial colonies plotting revenge of one sort or another. Thank goodness botulism only lives in anaerobic conditions.
There’s something revivifying about starting from scratch in a space. If you’ve ever watched any show on HGTV, you know that after reviewing the plans with a wide-eyed client, the first thing they say is, “Okay, let’s clear the room.”
Honestly, that’s my favorite part. A cleared room is “wild mind” made visible.
Focus on your rising and falling breath. Breathe into the space. Let go of what’s no longer needed. Notice what (decorating) thoughts arise.
That blank canvas of a space, your mind or your room, lets you imagine the possibilities. What could your room — or your life – be? Real change is probably only possible, in yourself or your space, when you’ve cleared away the clutter and the things that no longer serve.
Then there’s a vacuum, of course, which nature abhors. Plus, you’ve got to run the vacuum because underneath all that stuff was dust, dog hair, and dead spiders, not to mention a collection of long-lost paperclips.
A good de-cluttering can free up space in your home, and also in your brain. (Imagine if we could vacuum out all the detritus in our heads!) The cost of all that stuff is not just monetary; it also requires your attention, or at the very least distracts your attention from more important work.
As I sat visiting with a friend the other day, I heard him tell about why he’s stuck for at least a few more years in a job he’s outgrown. He’s constructed a beautiful space, but the cost was far more than he had anticipated. Now that house owns him, until he can figure out something different.
So maybe we live with the kitchen for a little while longer. Can we at least have our vintage 1950s sofa recovered? We call it the ”Dick Van Dyke” sofa, because you can seat eight or so humans on it with room left over for the dog, and that’s only a slight exaggeration. Right now it’s sporting chocolate brown wide-wale corduroy with cream-colored leather piping. No kidding.
Recover your furniture, recover your spirit, that’s what I always say.